A report last week released by the Army Surgeon General’s office said the treatment of mental health care for servicemen is driving up the cost of the military budget. He said, “The military health care cost is eating the defense department alive.”
In 2009, there were 17,538 military hospitalizations due to mental health issues representing 40 percent of the total days spent in veterans hospitals by servicemen and women. Multiple deployments and continual exposure to combat were cited as the contributing factors for post-traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, anxiety and readjusting to society. Interestingly, the military hospitalizations for pregnancy and childbirth were 17,354, adding new meaning to the term “R and R.”
With the cost of this war in the Middle East, I have to ask, when have we extracted our full pound of flesh from a relatively small handful of anti-Americans seeking justice for our foreign policy opposing them, supporting Israel and partitioning their homeland?
When will we end our revenge for the slaughter of 2,700 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center and for the 256 people who died on the four planes used as bomb which, incidentally, surpasses the number killed at Pearl Harbor in December 1942? When have we fulfilled the biblical, vengeful demand for an “eye for an eye?” When is it going to end?
It’s estimated that almost 296 times as many people have already been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attack and 127 times as many innocents who were killed in all the terrorist attacks worldwide from 1993 until 2004.
An updated 2010 casualty count in Iraq shows that more than 30,000 Iraqi troops have been killed in combat and more than 90,000 injured. However, 835,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been seriously injured. U.S. losses were 4,290 troops killed and 31,716 seriously injured. If 840,000 dead and 1.5 million injured isn’t enough revenge, then what is?
In Afghanistan, 8,587 Afghan troops have been killed and 25,761 seriously wounded. The number of Afghan citizens numbered 8,453 and more than 15,000 were seriously injured. So far, 951 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan.
Conveniently for the United States, the troop numbers in Afghanistan are skewed. Most of the Afghans killed are civilians, not government troops. The Afghans have no nationally organized military fighting against us, only what we call “insurgents.” According to my lexicon, an insurgent is “one who rises in revolt of established authority.” We have no established authority in Afghanistan; therefore, they are not insurgents. Most of the Afghans are civilians fighting foreign American aggressors to protect their poppy fields, their country and their Muslim religion. And why shouldn’t they?
Last week was a good example of the needless killing of civilians. In an overnight raid in Saydan, Afghanistan, we murdered 10 civilians who were trying to protect their home from American aggressors. The commander in charge justified the slaughter, saying eight insurgents (not terrorists), including a Taliban member, were “killed in the firefight.” Two-hundred people in the village protested. Carrying sticks and throwing rocks, they burned the American flag in protest of our own insurgency. They call life a precious gift from their god; we call our taking the lives of their innocent women and children collateral damage. If you were the father of one of the innocent children killed by a foreign government, you would protest and burn their flag, too, or would you?
One of our excuses for being in Afghanistan is to eradicate the poppy fields, their main source of income. We can’t destroy our own fields of marijuana in our national parks, Bureau of Land Management land or half of California. What are we doing over there killing civilians when we can’t solve our own problems? Oh! I know, there‘s no national glory in murdering civilians in America. With all our military superiority, it’s much easier killing lightly armed, so-called insurgent Muslims than heavily armed criminals in the United States who might fight back, actually beat the army and win the drug war outright.
Former President Ronald Reagan left office leaving a $1.3 trillion deficit, most of which was borrowed and spent on breaking up Russian communism and the ultimate destruction of the Berlin Wall. And that was a good thing.
However, that was a political war opposing communism and a war we could win. Now we’re fighting theocracies in a war we can’t afford and will never win because we can‘t kill 1 billion Muslims, collectively or individually. When and at what cost will our revenge and pursuit of that proverbial pound of flesh end?
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.